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Any suggestions for a Calcium Carbonate alternative? I am using the fine powdered form. I have always struggled to get my GH over 4˚, which of course makes the PH spike way up. The problem that I am having is that the tank takes hours to clear and leaves a slight white coating on the plants. I don't imagine that is too good for them.

I am doing 1/2 tank water changes weekly. Half of the amount that I am replacing is r/o water because I worry about metals and other chemicals in the tap water. I use some Kent r/o right to add some minerals back. The other half is tap water with a GH and KH under 1˚.

So, I'm starting with almost no hardness. I add enough calcium carbonate to get the GH and KH to around 4˚ and baking soda to get the total KH to 6˚.

Is calcium carbonate a source for calcium? I was reading about calcium deficiencies in some plants and it sounds like it could be what is hindering the growth of some plants in my tank even though I've been using Calcium Carbonate.

I've seen some discussion on crushed coral in the filter. Does it stay in the filter permanently or will it need to be removed after the hardness reaches the target?
 

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You could go get a bottle of Calcium mineral supplement packaged for people. Just calcium carbonate in a neat pill form and push it into the substrate. Keeps the white powder at bay unless you disturb the gravel there in the next day or two.

I've got really soft water and it's been working pretty slick for me. Most of the generics are just the calcium carbonate so it's cheap too.
 

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I like to use Kent's Turbo-Calcium. It's highly concentrated (maybe even pure) Calcium Chloride and a little goes a LOOONG way. The stuff's originally for Reefers, but let me tell you, my plants love it!
 
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